Sales Management Needs To Be More About Planning and Less About Activity


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That can’t be right. Sales management is all about execution, isn’t it. Planning is what the CEO does. Making it happen is what the sales manager does, isn’t it.

At least that’s the way the CEOs see it. They’ve got the brains and just need to employ people with the brawn to make it work.

And that’s the way it used to work.

The CEO had beancounters who used CRM to figure out conversion rates on prospects. The analysts told them each rep, on average makes 100 calls in a month, and from that wins 10 deals. Once they have that metric, figuring out how to grow the business takes care of itself. More reps calls means more sales. It’s a numbers game.

When times are good, the product is hot, and competition is weak, the strategy is employ more reps. There’s money to spare for the expenses. But times are tougher when the product is stale and the competition is fierce. The answer isn’t more reps. Its each rep making more calls. And the sales managers job is making it happen.

But it doesn’t work so well anymore. Times have changed. When target customers won’t take the calls, sales reps can’t make the extra calls.

And the reason it doesn’t work so well anymore is the market dynamics have changed. Prospects have less budget to spend. Competition is rampant. Buyers are too busy keeping their own jobs, executing their CEOs plans, to listen to new ideas, even if there are any, which usually there aren’t.

In a market where opportunities are restricted, there’s more competition for the buyers $, and CEOs are under pressure to deliver results they can’t, the only answer for sales managers is make each call more effective. Not doing the same thing every time, in the hope that sometimes it works.

So what does that have to do with planning? How about an example? Lets start with a simple Sales Plan.

We’d really like to do business with ABCD Inc. We can organise a sales call with the CEO. What will we say at that meeting? What will we want to be the next step? Which barriers will the CEO put in our path, and how will we overcome them?

Figuring out that little lot takes a lot of work, and is hard. It’s planning, as opposed to doing, which always feels more productive.

But without the plan we’ll go on the call with nothing more than our standard pitch, and that isn’t going to work. Our opportunity will be wasted.

Far better to spend some time upfront, figuring out what ABCD Inc will buy, why they’ll buy it, how they’ll buy it and when they’ll buy it. Then we’ll know if there’s a realistic chance of some business, what we’ll need in our proposition, how we’ll resource the sale, and when to walk away if the deal isn’t going to happen.

If that’s true of one prospect, and it must be, is it also true for the market?

When sales managers spend more time planning, sales people are more effective with the execution.
Why doesn’t the traditional approach to selling and sales management work so well any more? What can the modern sales professional do to stay relevant in today’s customer driven markets? Check out our eBook Reengineering Sales Management for ideas on how to embrace the new order of customer driven buyer/seller relationships.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Reeves
Consultant, author, software entrepreneur, business development professional, aspiring saxophonist, busy publishing insight and ideas. Boomer turned Zoomer - thirty year sales professional with experience selling everything from debt collection to outsourcing and milking machines to mainframes. Blogger at Successful Sales Management. Head cook and bottle washer at Front Office Box.


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